Gavin Henson’s hopes of being selected for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa may have come to an end after he was ruled out for up to six weeks with an ankle injury.
The Wales center damaged ligaments in his right ankle during Opsreys’ Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final loss to Gloucester in Coventry on Saturday. Lions head coach Ian McGeechan is due to name his squad for a three-Test series with the world champion Springboks on April 21. But Chris Towers, physiotherapist with the Welsh regional side, said on Tuesday that the 27-year-old Henson would not be playing again until at least early May.
“Following the MRI scan and specialist consultation on Monday, we can confirm that Gavin has suffered damage to the ligaments on both the lateral and medial sides of his right ankle,” Towers said.
“Although the injury is not so severe that he will require surgery, he will require a spell of at least two weeks in a walking cast before he can start to gradually get back to normal activity. At this stage, in light of the nature and extent of the ligament damage, we are predicting a four to six week spell on the sidelines before Gavin will be ready for action again,” he said.
Henson, who made one Test appearance for the Lions in New Zealand four years ago, has seen his season interrupted by a series of injuries and started just two of Wales’ nine internationals this term. McGeechan is planning to select a squad of 35 and the Scot, who guided the Lions to a series win over the Springboks 12 years ago, has said he wants all his players fully fit by the time they set off for South Africa.
Henson will now miss Ospreys’ European Cup quarter-final against defending champions Munster on April 12 and, in a best case scenario, would now appear to have a maximum of five games to prove his fitness before the Lions depart — and two of those depend upon his club reaching the European Cup final.
Injury-plagued outside-half Jonny Wilkinson of Engalnd, on the verge of making a comeback from a dislocated knee injury that has kept him out for six months, is also battling to get fit in time for the Lions tour.
The tour starts on May 30, when the Lions play a warm-up match against a Highveld 15, with the first Test in Durban on June 20.